The Barnes & Noble Review
As we age, we tend to erode; our bodies decay and our minds grow weary. But Deepak Chopra -- the internationally famous author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind -- claims that it does not have to be so. “The conditioning of our society leads us to believe that, as we grow older, we deteriorate physically and mentally,” he writes. “When you break out of this conditioning, you will learn from your own experience that every day in every way you can increase your physical and mental capacity.” In this book, Chopra lays out a comprehensive program for aging into health. He explains, through simple recipes and exercises, how we can retrain our bodies so that the life processes that wear us down -- eating, sleeping, thinking, moving, creating and loving -- can actually nourish us. If we learn to treat ourselves well, Chopra insists, we will ultimately become more pliant, energetic, and free. We will actually grow younger.
Chopra begins his program with a clear-cut explanation of the perceptive shift we must undertake before we can allow ourselves to grow younger. He writes: “By cultivating the habit of thinking of your body as a field of energy, transformation, and intelligence, you will begin to experience it as a flexible, dynamic bundle of consciousness.” Next, Chopra shows us how to renew our bodies through rest and relaxation. He offers a practical tutorial in meditation and then suggests a regimen of soothing habits that can lure even the most anxious of us into a deep, restorative sleep.
Chopra is perhaps most authoritative, however, on the subject of nutrition: He breaks down foods into Ayurvedic taste categories -- Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent -- and explains how to blend these tastes to create a sensual, healthful diet. “The energy and the intelligence of the natural world is packaged for your consumption in these six tastes,” Chopra notes. “Start listening to your body. Its wisdom mirrors the wisdom of the cosmos.” As with all of Chopra’s anti-aging techniques, the nutritional plan suits our intuitive sense of right living: Enjoy the world. Enjoy yourself.
Chopra completes his guidelines with a regimen of simple calisthenics and aerobic workouts, a plan for eliminating mental and physical toxins, connecting with others, and developing imagination. Together, these various steps lead us toward a different kind of aging: Instead of watching parts of ourselves erode -- a wrinkle here, a back pain there -- we can practice integrating our bodies and minds into a flexible, developing harmony. Chopra promises: “Making a shift in any one component of your life will have a positive influence on your entire state of well-being. The more you are able to replace life-damaging choices with life-affirming ones, the more profound the benefits you will experience physically, emotionally, and spiritually.” Chopra’s plan focuses us on living, and aging, beautifully.
Chopra, alternative health guru and founder of the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, CA, and Simon, the center's medical director and cofounder, present a program to enhance mind/body integration that they contend will help reverse aging. In a previous book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (LJ 6/15/93), Chopra argued that mental, social, and intellectual activity can help people slow the aging process. Grow Younger suggests that readers who follow the advice offered can reset their biological age as much as 15 years lower than their chronological age. The authors outline ten steps: to make changes in how we perceive time, get enough of the right kind of sleep and rest, eat the right kinds of food, take nutritional complements (the authors prefer this term to supplements), enhance mind/body integration, eliminate toxins, cultivate flexibility and creativity, and make love the most import thing in our life. Conscious breath work and meditation are encouraged, exercises for flexibility are illustrated, seven vegetarian menus are provided, and a list of resources and a bibliography round out this book. Although his advice can be unorthodox, this work will be appreciated by Chopra's many readers; recommended for public libraries and specialized collections. Jodith Janes, Cleveland Clinic Foundation Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Deepak Chopra and David Simon provide the reasons to see old age as both a mind-set and a recipe for breaking its hold on us. If we follow their advice, I believe that at the very least we’ll forestall the negative effects of aging, and we can possibly even reverse the aging process itself.” –Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Harvard University
“We all want to grow younger and live longer. Drs. Chopra and Simon’s book gives us a powerful, step-by-step way to remember that it is possible. A while ago, I fell into an ‘aging ditch’ (joint pains, feeling old, lines on the skin). I followed the ‘10 steps to reverse aging’ and the results were phenomenal: vital body, glowing skin, and no more pains. Everyone can benefit from this information." –Margot Anand, Ph.D., author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy
“The ten steps offered in this book represent a quantum leap in our understanding of how to reverse biological age.” –Mark Mastrov, CEO, 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide
“An ecstatic journey into the miracle of age reversal by two of the finest physicians and thinkers of our time. Grow Younger, Live Longer provides you with every tool to dramatically reverse your biological age. Willingly suspend your disbelief and observe yourself growing younger in every way. The best book on this subject since Dr. Chopra’s bestseller Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.” –Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., author of Your Erroneous Zones and The Wisdom of the Ages
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1Copyright 2001 by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Simon, M.D.
You have been living inside a prison that has no visible walls -- the confines of your self derive entirely from the habits and conditioning of your mind. If you are committed to growing younger, you must escape this prison of conditioning. You are not to blame for living within unnecessary limitations. If a rope is tied around the leg of a baby elephant and attached to a stake in the ground, it learns that it can only move within very narrow limits. Years later, as a powerful adult, it still remains within narrow confines when its leg is staked, even though it has the strength to uproot an entire tree. It has been conditioned to accept the limitations imposed upon it.
In a similar way, most people think and act within the narrow limitations of what they have been taught during childhood, without questioning the basic assumptions that structure their worldview. To live a healthier, richer, more creative life you need to recognize that most of what you hold to be true derives from habits of thought. We are born into a prevailing conversation about the world. As soon as we are capable of speaking, we engage in this conversation, reinforcing with our own thoughts and actions the patterns of thinking and behavior that surround us. This is unmistakably true in regards to how we view the body and its aging.
Until recently, few have questioned the assumption that aging is irreversible, and therefore, for generation after generation, people have reinforced the habitual thinking that growing older meant a progressive decline in mental and physical capacity. It is now time to change our habits of thinking and behaving and alter our experience of the bodyand the aging process.
The Quantum Possibilities
Drawing upon the wisdom traditions of the East, the dramatic new discoveries of modern quantum physics, and our own personal and professional experience, we invite you to change the way you think about and experience the world and your body. Despite how radical some of these ideas may at first appear, we encourage you to try out the practical approaches we offer and experience for yourself how this program can revitalize your body and mind.
From the perspective of quantum physics, reality is a mysterious, magical place. While on the physical plane of everyday life, time and space predominate and entropy, decay, and aging are the normal course of events, these are not features of quantum reality. The quantum realm is the fountainhead of pure potentiality, giving rise to the raw material of your body, your mind, and the physical universe. The quantum realm is the womb of creation, the invisible world where the visible is designed and assembled. We can summarize the key principles of quantum physics in five main points:
1. In the quantum realm there are no fixed objects, only possibilities.
2. In the quantum realm, everything is interwoven and inseparably one.
3. Quantum leaps are a feature of the quantum realm. A quantum leap is the ability to move from one location in space or time to another without having to go through any place or time in between.
4. One of the laws of the quantum realm is the Uncertainty Principle, which states that an event is a particle (matter) and a wave (energy) simultaneously. Your intention determines whether you see a particle or a wave.
5. In the quantum realm, an observer is needed to create an event. Before a subatomic particle is observed, it exists only as a virtual particle; all events are virtual events until the moment they are observed.
Your own bodymind system is also an expression of the same quantum field that underlies everything in the universe. Therefore, you can apply these quantum principles to the way you look at your body and aging. Rephrased in terms of your biology, they would be:
1. You are not merely the physical body that you identify with out of habit. Your essential state is a field of infinite possibilities.
2. Your body is inseparably one with the whole universe. When you are perfectly healthy or whole, you feel expanded. You become constricted only when you have discomfort or dis-ease. This comes from a feeling of separation.
3. You are capable of taking quantum leaps in perception and interpretation. With these quantum leaps you can alter not only the experience of the physical body but its very structure. Your physical body is capable of taking a quantum leap from one biological age to another without having to go through all the intervening ages in between.
4. Your body is simultaneously material (particlelike) and non-material (wavelike). You can choose to experience your body as physical or as a network of energy, transformation, and intelligence.
5. Before you decide which biological age you choose to experience, you are all possible biological ages. It's up to you to decide what age you want to be.
If you choose to see yourself as a physical entity, separate from everything else, you discard the chance to reverse the aging process. If you are able to look at yourself as a field of possibilities, intimately interrelated to everything else, wonderful new opportunities emerge. We encourage you to use these thoughts to trigger a paradigm shift in your awareness. With this shift you can gain a completely different understanding of the bodymind system you inhabit, the world you perceive, and the essence of your being.
Viewing your body from the perspective of quantum physics opens up new modes of understanding and experiencing the body and its aging.
The practical essence of this new understanding is that human beings can reverse their aging.
In the Language of Spirit
Knowledge traditions seek to understand and explain the workings of the cosmos. The perspective of quantum physics offers a fascinating way to view life, the body, and aging. The perennial wisdom traditions of the East offer equally amazing insights into the nature of reality. As explorers of both modern science and the ancient knowledge traditions, we are enthused and inspired by the closer and closer alignment between these different perspectives on life. According to Ayurveda, the ancient healing tradition of India, aging is an illusion because your true self is neither your body nor your mind. Your essential nature, who you really are, is the domain of ever-present witnessing awareness that is beyond your physical and mental layers. This field of consciousness gives rise to both the thoughts in your mind and the molecules in your body. Tapping into this realm of awareness where time and space have no meaning is the basis of emotional and physical renewal.
Accessing this field of pure potentiality has spiritual as well as physical consequences. Knowing your essential self as a nonlocal being, inextricably interrelated to everything else in the cosmos, awakens greater creativity, meaning, and purpose in life. Although the most profound way to improve health and reverse aging is ultimately a spiritual one, not everyone is immediately ready to accept this approach. One person may want to lose weight, another may need help to stop smoking, while a third may be seeking a more fulfilling love relationship. Each of these needs is important in its own right, but taking a spiritual approach opens the door to the evolution of consciousness, which can make all these things possible, and many more.
A spiritual approach means that we expand our awareness, even while focusing our attention and intention locally.
The reason we perform any action is in the hope that it will bring us satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness. Embracing the spiritual domain, which is the source and goal of all desires in life, creates the possibility for satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment independent of the inevitably changing situations, circumstances, and people that surround us. Those fortunate ones who dwell in this domain have achieved what is often called enlightenment.
Viewing your choices from a spiritual perspective means asking the big questions: Who are you? Why are you here? What do you really want? How can you best serve? Although at first glance these questions may seem irrelevant to slowing the aging process, they are actually essential to renewal. Shifting your internal reference point from an egocentric being, whose sense of worth depends upon the positions and possessions one has accumulated, to a network of conscious energy, woven from the threads of universal intelligence, has a profound effect on your mind and body. When you become clear that the reason you want to live to a hundred or more years is so you can express your full creative potential, you change your chemistry and physiology. When you identify your unique talents and commit to using them in the service of others, you strengthen your immune system. When you decide that exercising regularly or preparing a balanced meal is an enjoyable experience, you improve your circulatory health and lower your blood pressure. Your perceptions, interpretations, and expectations influence every aspect of your mental and physical health. Shifting your perspective and making new choices provide you with powerful tools to change your life.
The Window to Renewal
One of the ways science makes major advances is by studying situations, circumstances, and events that are the exception to the usual way things work. These are sometimes called anomalies, or exceptions to the rule. Most scientists ignore anomalies, but in fact, these are the very things we should be studying. If something breaks the rule, no matter what it is, no matter how infrequent it is, no matter how remote the probability, it means that a new possibility has arisen. And if a new possibility has presented itself, there must be a mechanism. Even if only one person out of ten million cures himself of cancer or of AIDS, we have to pay attention. Most scientists tend to disregard events that are so rare they do not regularly infringe upon the prevailing view of the world. They may dismiss an anomaly by saying that it is so rare-one in ten million-what's the point of investigating it?
The point is that it doesn't matter if something happens only once in ten million, because if it has happened even once, there must be some mechanism to account for its occurrence. And if there is a mechanism, then as scientists we want to know what that mechanism is, because once we understand the mechanism, we may be able to reproduce the phenomenon.
Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Einstein are examples of scientists who questioned the prevailing assumptions of their time and expanded their view to include phenomena that had previously been ignored. These and other great scientists paid attention to anomalies and sought to understand the mechanism that explains them. When something doesn't fit the paradigm, doesn't fit the pattern, doesn't fit the theory, it forces us to examine the model we are using. It compels us to expand or change the theory to incorporate the exceptional situation.
A good example of this is a friend of ours who was diagnosed with AIDS over fifteen years ago. He was close to death when he made the choice to change his life. He started meditating, began eating a healthy diet, and made the commitment to eliminate toxins from his life. Fifteen years later he is feeling completely well and has undetectable levels of the HIV virus in his blood. When we first met him, he was an anomaly, but now we know many more people like him. Our theory of consciousness predicts that if we reach a critical mass of people who have the same experience, then it will become true for everyone.
We believe that these same principles apply to human aging. If we look at recent historical times we see that the average life expectancy has shifted remarkably. The average life span of a human being during the Roman Empire was twenty-eight years. The average life span of a human being born in the Western world at the beginning of the twentieth century was forty-nine years. Although in the past, high rates of infant mortality influenced human life expectancy, the fastest-growing segment of the American population today is over the age of ninety years.
A baby girl born in America today is expected to live just less than eighty years; an infant boy has a life expectancy of almost seventy-four. Historically, there are many people who have lived to ripe old ages and have made major contributions to civilization. Leonardo da Vinci was drawing sketches in his sixties, Leo Tolstoy was writing novels into his seventies, and Michelangelo was sculpting in his eighties. Winston Churchill, with his fondness for cigars and Scotch, was active and productive until his death at age ninety. As our collective consciousness embraces the belief that we can have the biology of youth with the wisdom of experience, it will become the pervasive experience.
The Science of Aging
Recognizing that human beings do not age at the same rate, scientists have described three different ways to characterize a person's age. The first is chronological age, which is what your birth certificate says. Your chronological age measures the number of rotations Earth has performed on its axis and around the sun since you left your mother's womb. Your chronological age cannot be altered through mindbody approaches, but it has the least relevance to how you feel or function.
Biological age is a measurement of how well your physiological systems are functioning. It is the most important component of the aging process. Your biological age is calculated in reference to an average population of people who have the same chronological age that you have. Values for almost every biochemical and physiological process can be determined for different age groups. Known as the biological markers, or biomarkers, of aging, these include blood pressure, amount of body fat, auditory and visual thresholds, hormonal levels, immune function, temperature regulation, bone density, skin thickness, cholesterol levels, blood sugar tolerance, aerobic capacity, and metabolic rate (see the table on page 18). Once you know your results, you can compare them with the group average and see if your biomarkers are older or younger than your chronological peers. Your biological age can be very different from your chronological age. A fifty-year-old who takes good care of herself can have the biology of a thirty-five-year-old. Alternatively, a fifty-year-old who has not been attentive to his health may have the biology of men many years older. Whatever your biological age is today, we believe we can alter it by implementing the changes recommended in this book.